Some notes on the locally variable complexity of natural language strings
Diego Krivochen
January 2017

Proof-theoretic models of grammar are based on the view that an explicit characterization of a language comes in the form of the recursive enumeration of strings in that language (Chomsky & Miller, 1963: 283; Langendoen & Postal, 1984: 18, ff.). That recursive enumeration is carried out by a procedure which strongly generates a set of structural descriptions Σ and weakly generates a set of strings S; a grammar is thus a function that pairs an element of Σ with elements of S (Chomsky, 1965). Structural descriptions are obtained by means of Context-Free phrase structure rules of the general format A → B, and structure is assumed to be uniform: binary branching, endocentric trees all the way down. In this work we will analyze instances in which such a rigid conception of phrase structure results descriptively inadequate, and propose a solution for the problem of phrase structure grammars assigning too much or too little structure to natural language strings. We propose that the system can oscillate between levels of computational complexity in local domains (cycles), which also yields interesting predictions for locality phenomena.
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Reference: lingbuzz/004441
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Published in: Under review since forever
keywords: syntax, derivations, mixed computation, semantics, syntax
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